SNOMobile: Premium iOS and Android apps for scholastic journalism programs

We’ve got some exciting news for you. We’ve been listening to your requests, and after many months of research and development, we’re ready to roll out the premium service you’ve been asking for. That’s right–SNOMobile, our dedicated app for Mac and Android devices, is finally here!

We want to be clear: your SNO site is and always will be 100% mobile-responsive, right out of the box, even without an app. Our WordPress theme is designed to display beautifully on any screen. Readers will have a great experience whether they’re viewing your homepage on a 23” monitor or a 3” smartphone.

So rest assured, you don’t need an app. That said, SNOMobile offers several features that go above and beyond the call of duty. Here are just a few of the perks:

Push notifications. Keep your student body up-to-date on the latest school news. SNOMobile integrates with the native Mac and Android notification systems, and can instantly alert your fans when new stories are posted on your site.

Seamless syncing. Your SNOMobile app and SNO site are linked, so any time you post a new story on your site, your app will reflect it immediately.

Student access. Schools often provide students with iPads or tablets loaded only with district-approved apps. When general internet access is restricted, it can be tough to drive traffic to your page–but the SNOMobile app gives students the ability to view your site independently of a browser.

Grow readership. SNOMobile apps work effortlessly with the native social media features of Mac and Android systems. With a couple taps of a stylus or fingertip, a news story you post today could go viral on Twitter tomorrow.

Our apps are uniquely crafted for each school, and though they may seem tiny in size, creating them is a time- and cost-intensive process. We want our pricing to always remain transparent. The yearly cost of the app is $500 for hosting, support, and ongoing updates. Additionally, a one-time setup cost of $300 covers the initial development and customization of your app.

SNOMobile is a premium product with a premium price tag, and we understand the cost isn’t feasible for many schools. That’s why we pledge to always keep your SNO site looking great on all devices–we’ll never force you to pay extra for mobile-readiness. The SNOMobile app is just an extra, delicious layer of frosting on the cake you already have!

Want to take a look at an app we’ve already released into the world? Check out the Knight Errant, from Benilde-St. Margaret’s School in St. Louis Park, Minn.:

Ready to order your very own app? Just click here to fill out the order form, and our developers will get to work pronto. As always, if you have questions, comments, or concerns, please don’t hesitate to let us know–we’re all ears.

Save $50 on FLOW from SNO

It’s barely August, but for many schools across the country, the 2015-16 school year is approaching fast. For journalism educators, that means training in new editors, planning new issues, creating new lesson plans, and more. Whether the publication in question is a website or a print paper, there’s no question that advising a scholastic news program involves a lot of moving parts. Luckily we’ve created FLOW, an all-in-one newsroom management system designed by advisers, for advisers.

Online news sites and print editions, magazines, even yearbooks–FLOW’s got them all covered. This intuitive, web-based platform allows advisers to track each step in the publication process. From story assignments to final layouts, from fact-checking to entering grades, streamlining your newsroom is only a few clicks away.

FLOW maximizes efficiency and promotes student focus by showing editors only the tasks that are currently assigned to them. Advisers, on the other hand, can monitor what each staff member or student is currently working on. The entire team can see when each news item is expected to be published.

FLOW is completely customizable, just like our WordPress websites. Advisers can sort and filter assignments and tasks in a way that makes sense for them–by student, section, or media type, by deadline or draft status. A handy calendar displays the publication schedule. A notifications feature will even send out an email when a story is ready for editing.

Maybe the coolest thing about FLOW is that it links seamlessly to articles and images in Google Drive, Dropbox, or WordPress. Plus, the program is accessible from any computer with an internet connection, so advisers and students can stay connected to the newsroom no matter where they are.

“Every adviser should have FLOW,” said Tracy Anderson, adviser at Community High School in Ann Arbor, Mich. “It is perfectly organized…to handle 100 journalism students and two publications. It is absolutely incredible.”

Advisers can sign up for a free FLOW test drive or live phone demo at Additionally, entering the offer code SNOPATROL when placing an order will automatically apply a $50 discount.

Replace the whiteboard. Ditch the spreadsheets. Throw away the sticky notes. We’re confident that using FLOW will make 2015-16 the best school year ever!

The 2014-2015 Best of Best of SNO

Happy graduation to all the seniors out there, and happy end-of-year to the rest of you! While you were cleaning out your lockers and signing yearbooks, we were hard at work selecting our very favorite stories published on Best of SNO this school year. Many congratulations to all of the writers and staffs below! And if you don’t see your school, don’t be sad–this was no easy task, and we wish the list could be twice as long.

Without further ado, we present the 2014-2015 Best of Best of SNO!

Best editorial on a school or local issue:
More at stake than one teacher’s job – Editorial staff, Shaker Heights High School

Best editorial on a national or international issue:
Je ne suis pas Charlie – Faith Terry, Starr’s Mill High School

Best opposing viewpoints:
Why The Interview is exactly what the world needs – Hannah Sutherland, El Modena High School
Why The Interview is exactly what the world does not need – Yasmim, Int’l School of the Sacred Heart

Best use of infographic:
Seahawks vs. Seahawks – Meghan Laakso and Jackie Haines, Peninsula High School

Best use of innovative design:
The periodic table of Cerritos College  – Denny Cristales and editorial staff, Cerritos College

Best sports coverage:
BG silences Clairton, hailed state champion – Jordan Rhone, Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic High School

Best news coverage, health edition:
Alcohol use down, pot up as school outpaces nation – Sumin Woo and Holly Sutley, Dulaney High School

Best news coverage, education edition:
APUSH controversy: college framework catastrophe? – Morgan Menin and Amy Shim, Camarillo High School

Best Ferguson coverage:
Up in arms – Isabel Giovannetti and editorial staff, Robinson High School

Best metajournalism:
What can journalism students learn from the Kirby Delauter debacle? – Editorial staff, Linganore High School

Best movie review:
The Gambler travels to unforeseen depths – Sophie Haddad, Carlmont High School

Best variations on a theme:
Perspectives on Generation Z – Editorial staff, First Flight High School

Best investigative reporting by an individual:
Child abuse: An exploration of society, systems, and survivors – Grace Gyolai, Benilde-St. Margaret’s School

Best investigative reporting by a group:
There’s no place like home – Alisa Chuang, Mickey Shin, Caroline Waring, Shanta Katipamula, and Elisa Apra, Hanford High School

Best feature in a series:
Living in a rape culture – Callan Showers and Nate Pasko, Hopkins High School

Best technology exposé:
I swore off Google for a week – Martin Beck, Harrisonburg High School

Best shout-out:
Sending smoke signals to our former EIC – Justin Cook, Pascack Valley High School

Best student profile:
Leaving the past behind – Dan Fishbein, Algonquin Regional High School

Best alumnus profile:
Remembering WWII POW and Tyrone native Hayden Walk – Kathleen Cempa, Tyrone Area High School

Best faculty profile:
Kuipers and Vargo leave it all on the field – Maxwell Shukuya, Sacramento Country Day School

The Logan Aimone best critter profile:
Meet the geese – Hannah Hoffmann, Parkway West High School

There you have it, folks. Best of SNO will be taking a break over the summer, but will resume publishing your fabulous work come August. Have a great vacation, get some rest and some sun(screen), and we’ll see you soon!

A Vietnam Newseum exhibit, Snapchat is hiring, how not to be boring, and exciting news from Bill Murray: this week’s Fresh Powder Report

Vietnam Newseum:
Just in time for Memorial Day, “Reporting Vietnam” opened in the Newseum last weekend, and will be on display through early September. Honoring the 50-year anniversary of America’s first televised war, this display has images, audio, and press coverage from the war, and takes a good look at the media’s involvement with it.

Snapchat…as a career:
On the subject of press coverage, let’s talk about the fact that Snapchat is currently hiring journalists to cover the 2016 presidential race; this is clearly a very media-heavy assignment. Not only will the journalists hired for the job be responsible for compiling original photos and videos, but they will also be in charge of selecting the videos and photos that end up in the “Our Story” page dedicated to the election.

Full of stories:
If you’ve been looking for the place where social media and news coverage intersect, it’s probably called Storyful. They verify content, identify trends, and make it easy for you to incorporate their content into your own news coverage.

How to give a good interview:
Trouble finding the perfect interviewing technique? St. Paul Pioneer Press alum Jacqui Banaszynski gives you 7 tips to help you master interviewing— her biggest piece of advice? “Don’t be boring.”

Click my tweets:
So, your publication uses Twitter, and you’re using it frequently enough, but people don’t seem to be interacting with your content. Here’s how to fix that: Neil Patel explains the difference between a regular tweet and and a clickable tweet, how the latter is much more effective, and how to get your Twitter clickthrough rate up to where you want it to be.

Copyediting for the non-copyeditors:
Reporters do what reporters do best: research, interview, write, tell a story. Copyeditors are responsible for correcting errors in grammar and style. But every newsroom is different, and sometimes reporters have to do a bit of copyediting as well. Here’s a quick guide on copywriting for reporters.  It includes the basics, some external resources, and enough to get you started on really proofreading your own work. May your reporters never use “your” in place of “you’re” again.

Pinning, but NOT on Pinterest:
Have you tried “Pinning” a Tweet, or a Facebook post, so it always appears first?Here’s an easy guide on how to make your most important posts your most noticeable.

These things also happened this week:
+ Are you a Bill Murray fan? (That was a rhetorical question; everyone is a Bill Murray fan.) Netflix is set to release “A Very Murray Christmas,” a sure-to-be magical Christmas special written and directed by Sophia Coppola.

+ John Stewart wants to help Iraq veterans get into showbiz; he has scheduled a five-week boot camp for vets looking to get into the entertainment industry.

+ It’s summer: the season of good weather, beach days, barbecues, and, of course, binge-watching all of those shows you didn’t have time to watch during the school year. Here’s a list of six new TV shows premiering this summer. And yes, True Detective Season 2 is among them. You’re about to enter the Carcosa.

Editor-in-chief and nonprofit founder: Sanah Jivani does it all

Sanah Jivani is a pretty ambitious senior. Not only is she editor-in-chief of The Legacy Press at Klein Collins High School in Texas, but she’s also the founder of a nonprofit organization and the creator of her very own international holiday. Recently, we had a chance to speak with Jivani about her organization, her goals, and how being part of a newspaper has impacted her life.

Jivani was diagnosed with alopecia–an autoimmune disorder that causes hair loss–at three years old. By middle school, she had lost almost all of her hair, and began wearing wigs to hide her condition. Her classmates bullied her, and her self-esteem hit rock bottom.

But then, one day, Jivani looked in the mirror and saw something else. “Instead of noticing that I was bald, I noticed my beautiful brown eyes…I noticed the beauty I carried just by being me,” she said.

So Jivani stopped wearing a wig and started loving her natural self, bald head and all. She created International Natural Day in hopes of helping others embrace their inner (and outer) beauty. On Natural Day, which falls on February 13th, “you allow yourself to be your own definition of beautiful,” she said.

The once-shy Jivani now speaks at schools and other organizations, telling her story and encouraging others to join her movement. She credits her four years at The Legacy Press with helping her overcome her fear of public speaking. And, she says, it was all a big accident.

“I got stuck in a journalism class I didn’t want to take,” Jivani said. She was a freshman in high school, and none of her friends were in the class. However, she slowly made new friends, and realized she loved writing. Journalism, she said, “taught me the power of storytelling… it taught me how to tell my own story as well as other people’s.”

Jivani also believes that being editor-in-chief has taught her how use social media as a tool to spread awareness. “Social media is basically my best friend,” she said. To get the word out, she uses the hashtag #naturalday, and tweets at celebrities in hopes that they’ll retweet her to their audiences. They often do.

Ultimately, “being editor-in-chief taught me how to be a leader,” Jivani said. International Natural Day has inspired chapters and events in 28 countries so far, and it’s quickly growing thanks to her leadership. To find out more about the movement or about Jivani, check out the International Natural Day website.

Fresh Powder: The Columbia Journalism Experiment, First Amendment Awards, and the answer to short attention spans

A weekly summary of journalistic tidbits

The Experiment:
14 students from the Columbia Journalism School created a collaborative site that takes a look at the most successful and prominent experimental journalism of today. Why? So they’re better prepared for the industry when they graduate, so they learn to adapt to new-age journalism; to share their experiences with the rest of the journalism-hopefuls out there. Regardless of their intent, it’s worthwhile project to spend some time investigating.

In fact, here’s a little preview— one article published to the Experiment’s site addresses how journalism schools are adapting to the new age of digital journalism. The article weighs in on the topic from a J-school perspective, backing the issue with a variety of different opinions from reputable sources. If you’re still wondering how journalism education is adapting to a digitized medium, this is worth your time.

Fighting for that First Amendment:
There’s still some time to nominate your brave student for the SPLC’s Freedom Awards! All you have to do is submit a written description on how your student has continued to (lawfully) exercise their First Amendment rights in the face of resistance. The deadline for entries i June 8th, so make sure to send them in soon!

How to write well:
In remembrance of the late William Zinsser, here’s an article written by a lifelong fan, who reflects on some of his most meaningful writing advice. His manual, “On Writing Well” is an absolute must for anyone hoping to make a career out of their own writing someday.

Internet attention deficit:
Have you noticed the exceedingly short attention span most audiences seem to have these days? Would you even occasionally include yourself in that demographic? In the age of 6 second Vine videos, it’s not surprising that analytics reports are showing that readers often won’t finish a story, no matter how great the content. How do you fix this? This article lets you in on all the secrets; what devices tend to increase a reader’s attention, the type of traffic that will ensure they stay a little bit longer, and how to utilize more multimedia to gain a more thorough read-through.

Mobile last:
Concerned that your content isn’t “mobile first” enough? Apparently, you don’t need to be too worried; here’s why “mobile first” and “mobile only” platforms are actually not the most innovative or effective way to reach an audience.

These things also happened:
+ A candidate in a local UK election demanded a recount after he was told he had no votes, claiming that was impossible because he had definitely voted for himself. What a graceful, respectable way to accept a loss.

+ The series finale of Mad Men took place Sunday night; hopefully, those of you following the lives of Don Draper and Co. got a satisfying ending.

+ The president finally joins us on Twitter— how long until angry tweeters chase him off? Just ask Joss Whedon; it can happen to anyone.

The SNO Report: From the newsroom to the classroom

While SNO works with many middle schools, high schools, and colleges, we’re lucky enough to host a few elementary school papers as well. One of these is The Colonial Times, from Colonial Elementary School in Pelham, New York. We recently spoke with Rich Zahradnik, who teaches the fourth and fifth graders that comprise the Times’ staff.

Zahradnik is an accomplished journalist in his own right, having worked in the field for three decades before becoming an educator. It all began at 15, when he wrote a letter to the editor criticizing a local school board member. She called his mother to complain.

“I realized I could write things that would have an impact,” he said. “I was sold.”

After studying journalism in college, Zahradnik landed a job at an independently owned, local daily. He began writing business news, then national news, eventually going on to report on everything from film to finance to sports. “I was obsessed with understanding media itself,” he said.

When the paper was acquired in ‘86 by media giant Gannett, Zahradnik and two of his colleagues–who knew nothing about running a business—set out to publish their own. The Peekskill Herald was “badly undercapitalized,” he said. “Running your own paper is the hardest work. You’re responsible for the staples, tax forms, postage, everything.”

It was gratifying work, too, though. It was also something that would have been impossible just a few years prior. The brand-new Macintosh had just begun to replace expensive typesetting equipment. “This affected news producers, not consumers,” said Zahradnik. “But it lowered the barrier to entry to publishing.”

What did affect consumers, of course, was the Internet. Like many journalists and journalism educators, Zahradnik has mixed feelings about digital publishing.

“Everyone receives news at the speed only newswires once operated at. We can read pieces we would never have seen before,” he said. “[But] bloggers in basements are not the same as feet on the street—at city hall, the school board meeting, the police precinct. When everyone’s rewriting everyone else, who will be left doing original reporting?”

After the Herald, Zahradnik went on to work at some big-name outlets—CNN, AOL, Fox. He said each newsroom had a distinctly different culture. “CNN was entrepreneurial. Fox often felt like a political campaign… AOL spent its time obsessing [about] click-throughs.”

Zahradnik began teaching after he quit journalism to write novels full-time. “I wanted to give something back,” he said. He volunteered to start a newspaper club at his son’s elementary school. After discovering WordPress and SNO, he realized that a digital paper would be ideal for young writers.

“Say you assign 16 kids 16 stories for a print paper. If one story doesn’t come in, you’ve got a problem. [With a website], the readers know nothing of the missing story.” Plus, he said, his fourth-graders’ stories are often too short for a print paper, but look just fine on the web.

Zahradnik’s students do a surprising amount of work on the Colonial Times, which is now in its fourth year of production. Kids decide what to cover and who will cover it. They write full stories and headlines. They also do on-screen layout for the paper’s two print issues per year.

“The only thing they can’t do for either outlet is copyedit,” said Zahradnik, “but there are a lot of grownups that can’t do that, either.”

Zahradnik believes fourth and fifth graders have some unique qualities that make them especially great reporters. “They jump into everything with energy and enthusiasm, yet still have an intelligence about the world that’s worth hearing,” he said. “My kids make a refreshing change from the cynicism and ‘I-can’t-do-that’ of the newsrooms I’d been in for 30 years.”

For now, Zahradnik is happy to be teaching part-time. “Great teaching is great theater and takes tons of energy,” he said. When not teaching, he’s writing mystery novels. He lives with his family in Pelham, New York.

School Newspapers Online recognizes 14 student websites as SNO Distinguished Sites

The 2014-15 academic year is drawing to an end, and many student news staffs are getting ready for summer break. Journalism programs in the SNO network have something else to look forward to, too––the recognition and pride that comes with being named a SNO Distinguished Site.

Fourteen student news websites earned the title of 2015 SNO Distinguished Site after earning badges in each of six areas of distinction. These badges recognize achievement in what SNO views as the main components of a successful modern news website: story page design, writing, multimedia, continuing coverage, audience engagement, and overall excellence in website design.

The sites awarded this year’s SNO Distinguished Site award are:

SNO created the Distinguished Sites program last year, with the goal of eliminating the ambiguity of what makes a good online student news site. SNO provides detailed guidelines for each badge, and encourages schools to make improvements and reapply if at first they don’t succeed.

Jessica Wagner, journalism adviser at Owatonna High School in Owatonna, Minn., said the program brought her staff together to focus on creating quality journalism.

“The SNO Distinguished Sites program has given us a bar to measure good online journalism,” Wagner said.  “With the six different badges, this feat cannot rest on one person’s shoulders solely. It helped us think about what can we do to engage the audience more via story page and writing. We evaluated everything from site design to our social media appeal.  We critiqued stories to make them even better.”

With half of the winners being second time awardees, the program has fostered an atmosphere of continuing excellence.

“One of the goals of the program is to provide scholastic journalism programs with the goals and standards to motivate news staffs to improve their site across the board,” said Kari Koshiol, SNO Distinguished Sites Committee Chair.

“The fact that there are news programs earning this honor a second year in a row proves they are continually holding themselves to a high standard,” she said.

Overall, 128 different news publications applied for 396 badges over the past four months. A total of 178 badges were awarded to 103 different scholastic news sites.

The 2016 SNO Distinguished Sites program will be announced in late fall, and will begin accepting entries Jan. 1.


Polish your page with a SNO Site Review–25% off through June 30

Whether your website is a few months or a few years old, there’s always room for improvement. That’s why, for a limited time, we’re offering SNO Site Reviews for only $75 (normally $100). Order by June 30th, and you’ll receive a personalized, detailed report just in time for the new school year.

What exactly is a Site Review? It’s not a contest, and it’s not exactly a critique, either. It’s a comprehensive overview of all aspects of your website and news coverage. We’ll examine your site from a user’s perspective. We’ll snoop around in your design options and widget layout. We’ll consider things like your social media use and site analytics. We’ll check out your content–headlines, stories, videos. We’ll tell you what’s working great, what isn’t, and most importantly, why.

But we don’t stop there. Standard critiques can leave news staffs feeling overwhelmed or unsure how to proceed. A SNO Site Review always includes a list of action items–concrete, realistic steps toward improvement that you and your staff can take. We’ll help you set achievable goals and show you exactly how to reach them.

Check out what these advisers had to say about our Site Reviews:

By all means, make the investment. Commentary was supportive, corrective, and enormously helpful. Makes a difference when working with true professionals — colleagues, really — who understand all the joys and aches of working with… good journalists in the making.”  — David Bailey, Lincoln High School

“It was incredibly detailed and helpful. It almost became a checklist of what we needed to do to improve. I loved the suggestions about content and coverage, but was really appreciative of suggestions for working on the back end of the website.” — Valerie Kibler, Harrisonburg High School

Make sure to place your order before June 30th to receive the discount. The SNO Patrol lovingly handcrafts Site Reviews in the order they’re received, so your patience is appreciated! We’ll make sure you have yours in hand before the new school year begins.

The SNO Report: Resources for journo advisers

At SNO, we’re focused on making the life of a journalism educator a little easier. With that in mind, here are 8 online resources we think are worth checking out:
Here you’ll find a collection of useful journalism teacher/adviser goodies, including headline challenges, editing resources, ways to improve content, and even a lesson on “math for journalists,” though we don’t know why anyone would be interested in that.

AP Style Quizzes:
Want to focus more exclusively on AP Style? Here is a collection of 18 AP Style Quizzes to give your students. Make sure they’re experts before you send them off into the “real world;” they’ll definitely impress their future J-School classmates at whatever Ivy League school they are sure to get into after taking these quizzes.

Verification Junkie
Here is a blog dedicated to collecting tools for all of your fact-checking needs. The site gives reviews of each product, as well where you can find it.  An invaluable resource for verification and assessment of your user-generated content, especially information gathered from social media.  Basically, an absolute must for all journo advisers everywhere.

Covering sensitive content:
Resources and guides that help your students tackle the difficult topics with grace. This has been a frequent concern in High Schools across the country, especially given varying school policies and audiences.

Make Cool Photo Spheres:
Create Photo Spheres (360-panoramas) similar to what you see on the Google Maps Street View to embed in your stories.  It may not be a feature you’re going to want to use frequently, but, when you do, it will really make those stories stand out.
Have you always wanted to go to Berkeley to learn more about digital journalism, but it’s not physically possible for you to be there? Now, California education comes to you; Berkely has graciously provided us with this compilation of resources, tutorials, and inspiration for digital journalists. Educate yourselves.

Using A Camera:
Here are some helpful tips on taking photos with a DLSR camera, for those staffs lacking photographers, or for the writers who want to dabble in professional-esque picture-taking.  Sometimes, that iPhone camera just doesn’t cut it.

Have you SEEN these hashtags?:
A super-easy way to search hashtags and create “Seens” (which organize the content and make it accessible to anyone you want to share it with.)  It may seem redundant, as Twitter already allows you to search through hashtags and trending topics, but this user interface is not only more aesthetically pleasing, but also a bit nicer to navigate. If your program uses Twitter regularly, this is definitely worth checking out.